Best Transfers XI - Liverpool under the Fenway Sports Group
Two Merseyside derbies bookended the start of FSG’s reign as Liverpool owners and the end of Brendan Rodgers’ era at Anfield, where it began with a defeat at Goodison Park and then a score draw at the same venue five years later. In between, Rodgers and two other managers tried and failed to bring the glory days back to Anfield, though the former did bring Champions League football if only for one disastrous season culminating in a group stage exit.
Within this period, FSG has allowed their managers, former director of football, and current infamous transfer committee to spend a total of £410million new signings. Most of these signings have failed to impress, but there are still enough new arrivals that have done enough to make a team of FSG’s best transfers – which will be deployed in the formation where Liverpool played the best football under FSG, Rodgers’ 4-4-2 diamond from the 2013/14 season.
GK Simon Mignolet
The Belgian shot-stopper was signed in 2013 to replace fan favourite Pepe Reina. Mignolet was immediately thrust into an unlikely title challenge and managed to do well in his first season at the club. After being dropped for a short time in his second campaign due to poor form, Mignolet regained his spot and has not looked back since, improving with every game. With Brazilian Alexander Doni and current back-up Adam Bogdan the only other two goalkeeper signings under FSG, it was an easy decision to pick Mignolet for this spot.
RB Nathaniel Clyne
The former Southampton full-back has given fans much relief as he replaced ex-England international Glen Johnson. Clyne possesses greater defensive ability and has superior pace to Johnson. The current England international may not have the offensive prowess of Johnson, but does still provide sufficient width on the Reds’ right side. Young defender Joe Gomez might rival Clyne for a first-team spot in the near future, but with former loanee Javier Manquillo the only other choice, Clyne easily takes this spot as well.
CB Kolo Toure
A difficult choice here, but Toure gets the nod ahead of young upstarts Tiago Ilori and Sebastian Coates, now at Sunderland, due to the Ivorian’s greater experience and existing value as a reserve defender for the club. The former Manchester City man has won the Premier League with Arsenal’s Invincibles and at the Etihad, and so his winning mentality and leadership ability are still vital areas for Liverpool’s dressing room.
CB Mamadou Sakho
The Frenchman has been unlucky with injuries during his time at the club so far. Whenever Sakho has hit some form and a healthy run of games, injury inevitably strikes and he has to start from scratch. With the other left-sided centre back signing being the more expensive Dejan Lovren, it is easy to see why Sakho is the superior of the two and more than deserves a spot in this team.
LB Jose Enrique
To be fair, Alberto Moreno could be on here by the end of the season, should he carry on improving his form. Moreno enjoyed his best month as a Liverpool player in September, so this position inevitably goes to Enrique. The previously-frozen out Spaniard may have a new lease of life under the new manager, but it was the form of his first two seasons at Anfield that gives him the nod ahead of his fellow Spaniard and former loanee Aly Cissokho.
DM Emre Can
The young German arrived in 2015 in the hopes of replacing the departed Steven Gerrard. Can struggled in his first campaign, mainly deployed as part of a three-man defence, where granted, he did impress. However, when played in his preferred central midfield position, Can has generally faltered and fail to leave his mark on games. The former Bayer Leverkusen player has shown glimpses of his talent and has the potential to push on in the next few years, and Can easily gets ahead of short-term Borussia Dortmund loanee Nuri Sahin.
CM Jordan Henderson
Much maligned when he signed for Liverpool in 2011, and almost sold in part exchange in 2012, Henderson has since fulfilled his early potential and emerged as a key player for club and country. The new skipper is probably one of Rodgers’ success stories, even though the manager did not want him initially. Henderson has improved leap and bounds since joining the club, and can reach even greater heights should he be able to increase his goal return. There’s no doubt that the England international is ahead of fellow 2011 arrival Charlie Adam, who only lasted one season before moving out on loan.
CM James Milner
The current vice-captain at the club has done well in filling Gerrard’s boots during his short time at the club so far. Milner has covered the most grass of all Premier League players, and his propensity for hard work coupled with his underrated talents secures him of a place as one of Liverpool’s most important players at the moment. Milner is keeping Rodgers’ favourite and first signing in 2012 – Joe Allen – out of the first eleven, and will prove a worthy servant for the club for the next few years to come.
AM Philippe Coutinho
One of the few successful signings of the Rodgers’ era, Coutinho was one of the supporting acts during the club’s title charge in 2013/14, and subsequently emerged as the club’s talisman in 2015. Coutinho’s talent is almost unrivalled and he has a few majestic long-range strikes to boast. His playmaking ability and eye for an exquisite pass will make him one of the Reds’ key players for many years to come, and Reds fans will hope Coutinho will remain as the main man under Jurgen Klopp. This is in stark contrast to Rodgers’ 2013 flops Luis Alberto and loanee Victor Moses, both had almost zero impact at the club, while the jury is still out on current Reds Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino.
ST Daniel Sturridge
The England international is still the club’s premier striker, and has the best goal per game ratio of any Liverpool striker in history. Signed in January 2013 from rivals Chelsea, Sturridge has been moulded from an erratic flank forward to a supremely deadly hitman. His cruel injury record has halted his progress at the club so far, but his 21 league goals in the 2013/14 was arguably one of the main reasons – sans Luis Suarez – for Rodgers’ title charge that season. Spaniard Iago Aspas failed to provide any support during that futile season, while Fabio Borini proved a massive flop even as one of Rodgers’ first signings. Craig Bellamy could be hard done by considering his two-spell worth of contributions to the club, while there’s still time for Christian Benteke and Divock Origi to shine at the club.
ST Luis Suarez
The best signing of the lot for FSG ironically came as their very first signing. Tracked ever since FSG bought over the club and installed Roy Hodgson, to finally securing their man in January 2011 under Kenny Dalglish, the Uruguayan sat alongside Andy Carroll as Fernando Torres was making headlines with his record breaking move to Stamford Bridge. Suarez represented all that was the best, and worse, of FSG’s Liverpool. With his biting and racial scandals also saw a record tally of 31 league goals in the 2013/14 season, Suarez gave his all to the club until Barcelona came calling, with the Reds making a massive profit as a result. Compared to his fellow signing that day in January, who had cost much more and eventually left with the Reds taking a 50% loss, as well as the likes of Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli, Suarez was a once-in-a-lifetime player for Liverpool and the very fact he has not been adequately replaced – whether by an individual or with a few players – tells the whole story.
The signing of wingers have proven particularly fateful for FSG and their managers, with Dalglish’s signing of Stewart Downing and Rodgers’ duo of Lazar Markovic and Oussama Assaidi all failing to hit the heights expected of them, further vindicates the use of a diamond midfield to find the eleven for FSG’s best transfers.
FSG will hope that their new man Klopp can significantly improve their transfer record, and bring with it the success that was hoped for, and more, during the last five years as owners of the club.
Featured image: all rights reserved by Norio Nakayama
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